News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
From The Hill
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday broke the news to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that the White House has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C., for a second meeting this fall.
“We have some breaking news, the White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall,” Mitchell said during an event with Coats at the Aspen Security Forum.
“Say that again?” Coats replied, before laughing.
“Did I hear you right?” he jokingly asked, laughing. “Ok, that’s gonna be special.”
As members of Congress weighed a measure Thursday criticizing President Donald Trump for considering a Russian request to interrogate former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, the White House again released a statement saying the president did not hold a position he had appeared to embrace.
After the White House statement, the Senate unanimously approved in a 98-0 vote a nonbinding resolution Thursday offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that said the U.S. should refuse to make any former diplomat available to Russian investigators who say that official may have interfered in their country’s domestic affairs. The Senate was expected to vote on that resolution Thursday afternoon.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution on Thursday stating that the United States should refuse to make any current or former official available for questioning by Vladimir Putin’s government.
The 98-0 vote amounts to a bipartisan slap at President Donald Trump, whose White House on Thursday reversed its previous openness to giving Moscow access to former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and other longtime Putin critics.
But beyond the lopsided vote to pass the symbolic resolution, proposed earlier in the day by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), it remained unclear if the Senate would move ahead on any substantive action in response to President Donald Trump’s widely criticized appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.
Details of what the two leaders discussed in their summit in Helsinki, Finland, remain scarce, with much of the description so far coming from Russia. While Putin portrayed the Ukraine offer as a sign he’s seeking to bring the four-year-old crisis to an end, a referendum is likely to be a hard sell with Ukraine and its backers in Europe, who remain committed to an 2015 European-brokered truce deal for the Donbas region, parts of which are controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
White House officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. If Putin’s account of Trump’s reaction is accurate, it would suggest a more flexible approach than the U.S. has shown to date on the issue. At the Helsinki meeting, Trump also agreed to consider a Putin request to question the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow over U.S. campaign-finance violations that critics say Trump should have dismissed outright.
From The Hill
Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s office on Wednesday released an itemized list of evidence prosecutors are considering for use against Paul Manafort as the former Trump aide’s Washington D.C. trial approaches.
Other items on the list include photographs and documents of expensive purchases prosecutors say Manafort made with money he attempted to hide from U.S. authorities after working for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine.
The White House withdrew the nomination of Circuit Court hopeful Ryan Bounds on Thursday, moments before the nominee was to face his Senate confirmation vote and after South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott raised concerns.
Multiple sources told CNN that Scott made clear during the Senate lunch Thursday that he couldn’t vote for Bounds and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio echoed the concerns.
The concerns revolved around the content of his writings while at Stanford and the fact that Bounds did not disclose the writings to a bipartisan committee of attorneys in Oregon that had recommended him for Ninth Circuit job.
One source described there was then a “jail break” of Republican senators with concerns. Once it was clear the vote was going to go down, several other senators also said they didn’t want any part of voting for him, according to the sources, who said calls were made to the White House to let them know.
From The Hill
“I believe so,” Spicer said when asked by “Today” host Savannah Guthrie whether he thinks the president is truthful. Spicer called Trump “the ultimate salesman.”
“He uses hyperbole to sell issues, and that’s how he is,” Spicer said. “He’s a salesman and a negotiator and a businessman first and foremost.”
Spicer memorably defended Trump’s inaccurate claim that his inauguration crowd was the “largest ever,” as well as the president’s unfounded claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said he doesn’t know what was said in the one-on-one meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
He also stated that he needed to “correct the record” when he put out a statement reasserting the intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election after Trump had earlier expressed doubts about that finding in a joint press conference with Putin.
Coats said, “I don’t know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and the President has already mentioned some of the things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more. But that is the President’s prerogative. If he had asked me how that should be conducted I would have suggested a different way, but that’s not my role, that’s not my job. So it is what it is.”